Dinca: contemporary art and culture

A Reaction to Limitless

Perhaps, what is most disturbing in the 2011 film Limitless [1], is not the general inaccuracy of the entire plotline—the idea that one can only limitedly access 20% of their brain [2]—but rather something more overlooked: Eddie Morra’s career choices and transitions instigated while under the influence of the fictional drug, NZT-48.  From a starving writer who has yet to write anything to one who becomes published, to a brilliant stock trader, to a running candidate for the United States Senate, the drug’s effects–which are to improve both short-term and long-term memory as well as expand the capacity for memory, thus accelerating and increasing intelligence—with very specific archetypes of ‘success’, reflect the ills of a society so afflicted and determined by the artificial logic propagated and intuitively accepted under advanced capitalism.

Our newly enlightened character, Eddie, now imbued with an intelligence so encompassing that it seems he can literally learn and do anything, is only ever capable of working his way up a system and profoundly incapable of reconfiguring, overthrowing or even critiquing it.  His new intellectualism only allows him to procure more and more capital, to pursue a perversion of luxurious experiences and seemingly phantasmic ‘power’ lifestyles, to practice politics on a linear scale of mediocre predictability, but never to critically examine or question these roles and choices, or the economic and political systems in which they operate within.

The fictional drug, NZT-48

There is a moment in the film where a recently successful Eddie self-reflectively waxes on what the next step is in the advancement of his professional life.  It is the following epiphany that soon declares his trek to the top:

“And then I began to form an idea.  Suddenly I knew exactly what I needed to do.  It wasn’t writing, it wasn’t books; it was much bigger than that. But, it would take money to get there.”

Morra revels in this reflection as if there were any actual depth underpinning it, as if he were contemplating and wrestling with some grandiose profound future endeavor, perhaps something that was actually limitless, but instead following this scene, we find our character safely and predictably just playing with stocks—how underwhelming!  Limitless thus illustrates the safety and stagnation of the status-quo: serving as an all too real depiction of America’s neoliberal project and the kinds of ideologies it has produced—and is still dangerously producing.


[1] Limitless was based off of Alan Glynn’s 2011 novel, The Dark Fields


[2] Cognitive neuroscience debunks many myths of the brain



Hand Motions is a blog column on DINCA continually featuring writing from Louis DoulasWyatt Niehaus and Ria Roberts.

1 Comment

  • Teargaskov says:

    Haven’t seen the movie, but I find it hard to believe that anyone capable of making money doing something else would run for the US Senate.

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